|Pens aim to even series with Sens, but who's in goal?|
OTTAWA -- The day before the crucial Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals, Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan kept everyone guessing as to the identity of his starting goalie on Friday.
Will it be Marc-Andre Fleury, who has started every playoff game for the Penguins this spring but was yanked in Game 3 after giving up four goals on the nine shots he faced? Or Matt Murray, who gave up one goal on 20 shots in relief while seeing his first postseason action since guiding Pittsburgh to the Stanley Cup in 2016?
"It's always a hard decision, but it's a good hard decision because we have two really good goalies," Sullivan, whose team trails the best-of-seven series 2-1, said after practice Thursday. "We'll announce that in the morning."
In Game 3, Fleury had little support as the Senators jumped off to a fast start. Murray benefitted from his team trying to play catchup.
Asked if he had been told he would start Friday, Murray wouldn't budge.
"Even if I had, I wouldn't tell you guys about it," said the 22-year old, who ran with the No. 1 job all season before being injured in the warmup before the first game of the playoffs. "It felt good to be back in there, but at the same time, I don't think I would say I needed (the work). You don't need to play all the time to be good. You have to play like you haven't missed a beat, with no hesitation."
The Senators, who will be looking to extend their home winning streak to five games, are just two victories from getting to their first Stanley Cup finals in a decade. They are surprising a lot of people with a 10-5 record in the playoffs, but not themselves.
"I think I'd be lying to you if I told you I would have bet the house on it, but, no, we're a confident group," Senators defenseman Chris Wideman said. "We believe in ourselves to the fullest extent."
Ottawa winger Bobby Ryan said the 5-1 victory over the defending champs in Game 3 on Wednesday will not disrupt the Senators' focus on the present.
"I don't want to say last game was a statement or anything," Ryan said. "I think we had a good start and they had a poor one. You certainly take that for what it's worth, and you move on because Game 4 is not going to be that. It's not going to happen again.
"They're a veteran team. They're a team that's been through it. They'll recognize that, and they're going to have a push. So we'll be ready."
Meanwhile, the Penguins will try again to solve Senators goalie Craig Anderson, against whom they have just three goals in three games.
"I think the chances have been there," said Penguins center Sidney Crosby, who scored his first goal of the series in the third period Wednesday. "We've hit some posts and had some good looks. So, I think just make sure we're hungry.
"I think, when it's not going in for you, you've just got to keep it simple and make sure you keep getting pucks to the net, keep getting guys there, and make sure we're competing in and around the net."